Hematopoietic recovery from chemotherapy may be associated with an increase in circulating myeloid progenitor cell concentration (CFU-GM); these cells may be harvested by apheresis and used for auto-logous transplantation after high-dose cytoreductive therapy. Not all patients will demonstrate this increase, possibly due to damage to the stem cell compartment from prior chemoradiotherapy. Elevated circulating CFU-GM has also been reported in patients after short-term administration of recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhGM-CSF); whether elevation would persist during longer duration is unknown. We measured circulating CFU-GM (by both limiting dilution in liquid culture and colony formation in semisolid media) in patients with sarcoma who began infusion of rhGM-CSF during recovery from chemotherapy. Patients with elevated circulating CFU-GM did not sustain these levels during subsequent rhGM-CSF infusion. By contrast, patients without rebound elevation of circulating CFU-GM following chemotherapy recovery did increase CFU-GM levels with rhGM-CSF administration. The proportion of marrow CFU-GM in cell cycle during chemotherapy recovery was elevated in both patient groups and remained elevated with rhGM-CSF administration. Both marrow and peripheral blood limiting dilution assays demonstrated linear growth kinetics, indicating a direct effect of the in vitro growth factor (also rhGM-CSF) on progenitor cells without excessive influence or dependence on accessory cells in culture. The use of rhGM-CSF to restore circulating CFU-GM for apheresis during recovery in patients lacking such elevation merits further study.

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